Howard Lovecraft and The Frozen Kingdom (2016)

(On Cable TV, January 2017) A summary of Howard Lovecraft and The Frozen Kingdom either reads like a validation of how geek culture is now mainstream, or a big practical joke. Consider this: An animated kid’s movie in which a young HP Lovecraft travels to another dimension, befriends Cthulhu to become his funny animal sidekick and saves a kingdom from nefarious plans to bring back the Old Ones. Yes, this movie actually exists. Whether your mind is broken or twisted by the revelation is immaterial: Here we are. There it is. It may or may not help to learn that the film is a low-budget Canadian production and that it’s in the lower tier of what’s happening these days in kids’ animated features. Much of the film is clearly dull. The blocky visual design and primitive animation doesn’t have the polish of what’s considered the current standard for computer animation. The story and dialogue are similarly bland, simply moving the action along the lines of a typical kids-fantasy plot with predictable plot points, sidekicks, allies and villains. The bizarre intention to make a children’s film using Lovecraft falls between two chairs: Few kids know Lovecraft enough to care, and the adult fans who enjoy Lovecraft’s antediluvian, loathsome, tenebrous prose won’t sit still for a bargain-basement kids fantasy. (But of course, a substantial number of Lovecraft fans never even tried to read one of his stories.) Howard Lovecraft and The Frozen Kingdom is a remarkable film for the bizarre nature of its premise, but it’s not a good one in terms of execution or moment-by-moment joy of watching. Knowing that it exists is enough.

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